Reviewed by FV Staff

Some Head Food for Short Days and Cold Nights

Hidden History of Maine

by Harry Gratwick
125p. The History Press, Charleston, S.C.

Maine history has many individuals and events whose uniqueness have left behind stories that define American individualism. Harry Gratwick, a teacher of history for forty-six years and a summer resident of Vinalhaven since the 1940’s, has plucked a few of these individuals out of the distant and ever interesting past of the great state of Maine.

Some may be familiar to some readers. Arnold,s trek across western Maine to attack Quebec during the American Revolution. More obscure is the story of the young woman who invented and patented a machine that produced the flat-bottomed paper bag in 1873. Margaret Knight received 80 patents for commonly used products yet died in 1914 with an estate worth only $275.

Another is the story of Hiram Maxim, inventor of a steam powered airplane in 1893! The invention that made him wealthy however was an automatic weapon that fired hundreds of rounds a minute. Considerably more deadly than his airplane, it became the weapon of choice in World War I.

There are the stories of baseball player” piano legs” George Gore, the diva Lillian Nordica, Thaddeus Somes and Seneca chief Red Jacket.


Out there, a Few of Us are Islands

Well Out To Sea

by Eva Murray
308 pgs
Tilbury House Publishers, Gardiner, Maine

There may be no other more idealized place and at the same time more misunderstood and impossible to adjust to life on, than a remote island. Native islanders are unlike mainlanders in ways new arrivals often don’t anticipate, seldom understand, and rarely adopt themselves.

More than interdependent, islanders are inter-reliant. The differences islanders share are born of place, experience and necessity. Eva Murray has written about life on a remote island in Penobscot Bay. Her collection of short stories describes a reality and provides a wake-up call to a vast array of myths about island life.

The island is Matinicus and it was put on the public’s map recently by characterizations that there was a wild west social order on the island. But downtown Boston, New York, or Portland are the wild west to islanders. Imagine life in any of these cities if police response time were an hour and a half, if it was not blowing too bad, raining or snowing too hard, or the harbor not frozen over.

Like most places there are laws on the books there. But there is another more important set of laws off the books. These are the laws islanders live by. Many of these laws can’t even be explained, they are absorbed in time by those capable or willing.

Life is tough, and different enough that it is impossible for most to relocate to a northern remote island.

Murray’s stories are point blank, humorous and indirectly address some of the off the books island life laws. Murray was the island’s school teacher. She wears many hats to make a living with her husband, including contributing writer to several regional publications.


Swimming In Circles

Swimming In Circles: Aquaculture and the End of the Wild Oceans

by Paul Molyneaux
344 pages
Avalon Books, Thundermouth Press, New York

The ramping up of many pressures on the world’s wild fisheries has provided cover for the much greater pressure from investors to develop finfish aquaculture.

Journalist and former fishermen, Paul Molyneaux has written about fisheries for the New York Times, National Fisherman and other international publications. Molyneaux is among a small handful of the best-informed journalists writing about fishing and aquaculture today. He has published two books on the fishing industry and has been the recipient of a Guggenheim grant, as well as grants from Stanford University and the Patterson Foundation for his work in researching the aquaculture industry around the world.

Molyneaux has traveled to Norway, Chile, Mexico Alaska, India and Thailand to research aquaculture. The small open-boat fisherman, 300' herring trawlers, sprawling coastal finfish pens and artificial inland ponds covering thousands of acres are all a part of the story.

Swimming In Circles: Aquaculture and the End of the Wild Oceans reveals the broader implications of industrial-scale aquaculture for fishermen, fishing communities, wild fish and industrial aquaculture’s business model.

Molyneaux’s experience over two decades has made him well-versed in the evolution of U.S. fisheries law and the forces driving aquaculture. The book shines a light on international fisheries and aquaculture. The reflected light could illuminate the way for the United States as it dives into the development of aquaculture in a big way.


Corruption: The New Democracy

Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squid, and the Long Con that is Breaking America

by Matt Taibbi
Spiegel & Grau, 272pgs. $26

Russia has recently been described as a Mafia run nation. Matt Taibbi in an address titled “Corruption: From Russia To Wall Street” (Alternative Radio on NPR, October,2010), said, “It's easy to make jokes and feel virtuous when discussing post-Communist Russia. It's crony capitalism and insider trading at its worst. In comparison, are things much better in the United States?”

Taibbi was a bored American college student who moved to St. Petersburg, Russia where he lived and eventually finished his college education. He began writing newspaper stories, and in the process, got a view of the underside of the Russian economy, politics, government and life. A poorly-run machine, well-lubricated by corruption.

Back in the U.S. Taibbi became an award-winning journalist and writer for Rolling Stone. His credentials got him inside the gates of the kingdom of cash on Wall Street.

Here he saw what real corruption can become, how the corrupt spin their schemes, and the high price the rest of the country pays for allowing it.

In Griftopia, Taibbi has written about what may be the biggest financial story in history. That is the finance industry corruption, the mortgage collapse and how the finance industry not only sold illegal mortgages and drove millions out of their homes, but then grabbed up those illegally gained properties, thus driving the U.S. economy into a ditch it will very likely never fully get out of as less suckered economies eclipse us.

Some readers will need a strong stomach or large jar of sedatives to read this stuff. Corporate control of Congress is largely the cause. Not since the 19th century string of economic collapses, the farmers driven off farms in the Depression by the same mortgage scheme, the savings and loan scam in the 1980s, and on and on, have the banks and their con men so thoroughly taken us to the cleaners.

The up side to Taibbi’s books is his sense of humor. Adding up the economic numbers it will have to be described as black humor. The material in these books is not the mind-numbing abstract analysis of this problem spewed out by television nerds and nut jobs. Taibbi pounds the Wall Street pavement, gets into offices, courtrooms, and bars for information from the players.




Seaworthy: A Swordboat Captain Returns to The Sea

by Linda Greenlaw
242 pgs
Viking, New York

Linda Greenlaw has become a household name in the fishing industry and nearly so in a lot of America. Greenlaw would be a one-of-a-kind character at any time, but there is a certain amount of right place-right time to her larger story.

Greenlaw was lobster fishing in an industry with few women captains. She was a swordfish boat captain in an industry with no other women captains. She was swordfishing off Newfoundland during a perfect storm that sank another swordboat she was attempting to save. Journalists and filmmakers made that story and her well-known.

Right place at the right time aside, Greenlaw was still the swordboat captain who 400 miles offshore could punctuate the end of a slacker crews’ extended lunch break with a fire ax plunged through the galley television.

Seaworthy is the story of her return to swordfishing after a few years of lobstering. The book is about swordfishing, but it is also about swordfishing on a boat that has seen its better days and all that means while fishing hundreds of miles offshore at the vortex of North America’s storms during hurricane season.

Greenlaw has written books about lobster fishing and cooking seafood, as well as mystery novels. She knows how to tell a story. Seaworthy tells the story of working in a rapidly changing, dangerous seascape, on a suddenly shifting platform, with the potentially volatile disposition of a crew and how a captain confronts and juggles all this simultaneously.


NOAA Irons Tuna Quota

One of a Kind


Lawmakers Want Emergency Fishing Regs Before Catch Share Funds

Opinion: Dr. Lubchenco Ordered NOAA to Abandon U.S. Tuna Fishermen at ICCAT

Oceans Spatial Planning Subject of New National Process

Lamb of God Rescues Fisherman

Shrimp Markets Quality and Price Looking Good

Letters to the Editor

World Has Run Out of Fishing Grounds

Council Seeks to Reduce Scallop Fleet Impacts on Sea Turtles

Air Lobster

Scientists, Fishermen Set Research Agenda

Senator Snowe Announces Additional $7.2 Million in LIHEAP Funding for Maine

Book Reviews

Gear Conflict Discussed at Yarmouth Meeting

Back Then

Biotech Spends Half a Billion Pushing Engineered Animals

An Unlikely Dream, RawFaith, Sinks With No Loss of Life

January 2011 Meetings

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Capt. Mark East’s Advice Column